Read about CSIRO's management and accountability in the 2013 -2014 Annual Report.

Operating Model

Our Organisation operates within a model designed to support the successful execution of our strategy and delivery of our goals. It defines the roles, relationships and accountabilities of our leaders and operating units. It contains our processes for planning, investment, review and reporting and our CSIRO Policy Framework.

Legislation and government policy

CSIRO is an Australian Government statutory authority constituted and operating under the provisions of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 (SIR Act).

Our primary functions are to:

  • carry out scientific research to:
    • assist Australian industry and to further the interests of the Australian community
    • contribute to national and international objectives and responsibilities of the Commonwealth
  • encourage or facilitate the application and use of the results of CSIRO scientific research.

Our secondary functions include international scientific liaison, training of research workers, publication of research results, technology transfer of other research, provision of scientific services and dissemination of information about science and technology.

Reporting, accountability and other rules for our operations in 2013–14 were set out in the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act). The CAC Act was replaced by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 on 1 July 2014.

Pursuant to a service agreement, CSIRO also provides administrative support services to the Trustee of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund consistent with the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926. The Fund has its own governance structure. For more information see the Fund.

In October 2013, CSIRO submitted an annual Compliance Report to the Australian Government regarding the Organisation’s compliance with the CAC Act and its financial sustainability. General policies of the Australian Government that applied to CSIRO in 2013–14 under Section 28 of the CAC Act are: Commonwealth Fraud Control Policy, Australian Government Foreign Exchange Risk Management Guidelines, Competitive Neutrality, and Outsourcing of Information Technology Infrastructure Services. In addition, CSIRO has complied with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

Responsible Minister

As at 30 June 2014, the responsible Minister for CSIRO is the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry (since 18 September 2013).

Ian Macfarlane

The Honorable Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry

Also during 2013–14, Senator the Hon Kim Carr, former Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and former Minister for Higher Education, was the responsible Minister for CSIRO (from 1 July to 17 September 2013).

Under the SIR Act, the Minister has power to:

  • add to the purposes for which CSIRO may carry out scientific research (SIR Act, Section 9)
  • provide to the CSIRO Board in writing, directions and guidelines with respect to the performance of the functions, or the exercise of the powers, of the Board or of the Organisation (SIR Act, Section 13).

There were no purposes determined by the Minister in relation to the functions of the Organisation or Ministerial directions or guidelines relating to the functions and powers of the Board.

Ministerial directions and notifications

No new directions were received in 2013–14. Our CSIRO Enterprise Agreement 2011–14 was developed in accordance with the Minister’s direction regarding compliance with the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework.

Twenty-nine notifications of significant events under Section 15 and 16 of the CAC Act were made to the Minister during 2013–14. These related to participation in research centres and alliances, licence agreements, equity transactions and major research and infrastructure projects.


We are governed by a Board which is responsible to the Australian Government for the overall strategy, governance and performance of our Organisation.

The CSIRO Board comprises nine part-time, non-executive members including the Chairman, plus a full-time Chief Executive. All non-executive members are appointed by the Governor-General. The Chief Executive is appointed by the CSIRO Board, in consultation with the Minister.

In 2013–14 our Board operated partly through two standing committees:

  • Board Audit and Risk Committee
  • Board People, Health and Safety Committee.

On appointment, Board members receive a formal induction on the Organisation and their duties. Members maintain their professional development and to inform their decision-making participate in visits to CSIRO sites and governance and business briefings. In the pursuit of their duties, Board members may take such independent professional advice as is considered necessary and have complete access to senior management. 

In mid-2013, the Chairman of the Board coordinated a self-assessment review of our Board’s performance. Reviews are conducted at least every 18 months, with every second review conducted by an independent consultant commissioned by the Chairman. Board Committees review performance annually and report to the Board.

For more details, including information on qualifications and terms of appointment, go to Board members. Details of remuneration, membership of Board Committees and attendance at meetings and related party directorships and associations are in the financial statements.

CSIRO Executive Management

Our Chief Executive conducts the affairs of our Organisation in accordance with the strategy, plans and policies approved by our Board and the Board Directions to the Chief Executive.

Our Chief Executive is supported by our Executive Team. As a team and through their individual roles, the members lead, direct, coordinate and control CSIRO’s operations and performance. Go to executive team membership for more information.

The Executive Team is assisted by two standing committees:

  • Science, Strategy, Investment and Impact Committee
  • Major Transactions Committee.

In addition, a Precinct Oversight Committee steers the implementation of that key element of our CSIRO 2011–15 Strategy. The CSIRO Health, Safety and Environment Committee is accountable to the Chief Executive. This year also saw the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee formed.

Our Executive Management Council of senior managers provides a forum for sharing and discussing issues relating to the management and future strategy for CSIRO.

Disclosure of interests and related entity transactions

Board members and the Chief Executive declare material interests in accordance with the SIR Act and CAC Act, as appropriate. The Board Governance Document contains processes for managing conflicts of interest including a requirement that members absent themselves from discussions and voting, where a member has declared a material personal interest, or where a potential or actual conflict of interest or duty arises.

In 2013–14, the Board did not consider any transactions where a Board member was also a director of the other entity involved in the transaction.

Planning and monitoring performance

Our CSIRO Strategy 2011–15 is our guiding document for planning and monitoring performance. It outlines our broad objectives, policies and strategies to be achieved by 2015. In brief, the Strategy emphasises our intent to maintain our focus on addressing national challenges and opportunities through an enhanced program of National Research Flagships, and to continue developing Australia’s scientific capability and preparedness by investing in the people and infrastructure required to meet current and future challenges. Within the context of the Strategy, our portfolio of research is decided through a planning and budgeting process guided by the twin imperatives of seeking relevance and impact for Australia.

Our portfolio of research is decided through a planning and budgeting process guided by the twin imperatives of seeking ‘relevance’ and ‘impact’ for Australia.

An Annual Directions Statement outlines the Chief Executive’s expectations of and provides guidance to management for the planning and budgeting cycle. The 2013–14 Annual Directions Statement provided direction for our organisational budget and complements our 2011–15 Strategy by linking long-term goals with short-term planning priorities designed to address current circumstances.

In accordance with the requirements of the SIR Act, our annual Operational Plan sets out the strategies and activities we propose to pursue and carry out and the resources we intend to allocate to these activities. Specifically, it includes the annual delivery targets set by our Executive Team and agreed by our Board for the financial year in the form of Key Executive Actions (KEAs). An assessment of our performance against this year’s KEAs can be found at measuring our performance.

To ensure we remain on track, our Executive Team and Board receive regular updates on how we are performing against these plans, as well as regular performance reports against our annual KEAs, our Strategy’s Enterprise Strategy Measures, our budget and other internal performance indicators.

The quality of our research is subject to scientific peer review mechanisms. Our Chief Executive conducts an annual review of all research portfolios.

The quality of our research is subject to scientific peer review mechanisms and our Chief Executive conducts an annual review of all research Portfolios including the Flagships, Divisions and Enterprise Functions. In addition, our Divisions and Flagships are periodically reviewed by panels chaired by independent experts who assess the strength of our capability as well as the relevance and impact of our research. The findings of those reviews can be found at measuring our performance.

Our CSIRO Risk Policy recognises that identification and management of risk is central to delivering the functions of CSIRO and delivering benefits to Australia.

Our risk management framework provides the methodology by which our risk profile is articulated and regularly updated. It also sets out the responsibilities of all individuals across CSIRO, including the Board and management for identifying and managing risk. The framework enables enhanced risk identification, management and reporting at the executive level of our Organisation.

Risks are managed on an enterprise basis through mitigation strategies that include, in appropriate circumstances, insurance to transfer the financial impact of risk.

General insurance including General Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance and Directors and Officers Liability insurance is through Comcover. CSIRO’s workers’ compensation liability is covered by a premium paid to Comcare.

Advisory mechanisms

Our Strategic Advisory Committees provide advice on our longer-term strategic directions and research and development priorities, and on how we can meet the research, technical and business needs of customers or communities. The advice provided by these committees may be complemented by Flagship Advisory Committees that focus more specifically on maximising the effectiveness of our Flagship portfolio to achieve its goals. Both committees comprise of representatives from industry, government, non-government organisations and other stakeholders.

Policies, standards and procedures

Our CSIRO Policy Framework comprises policies, standards, procedures and guidelines. It is supported by our CSIRO Delegations and Authorities Framework.

The policy statements, approved by our Board, cover our commitment in relation to:

  • Science and Delivery
  • People
  • Governance
  • Risk
  • Health, Safety, Environmental Sustainability and the Community.

There is also a policy on Freedom to Conduct CSIRO Research and Technology Transfer.

Documents introduced or amended this year include:


  • Public Interest Disclosure Scheme
  • Misconduct
  • Grievance
  • Preventing Workplace Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying
  • Induction
  • CSIRO Credit Card
  • HSE Audit Self-Assessment
  • HSE Audit – Peer Review


  • Raising concerns in CSIRO
  • External Complaints Handling

Ethics and the Code of Conduct

Our CSIRO Code of Conduct sets out the standard of behaviour expected of CSIRO and of everyone working in it. The Code aligns with our Values Compass and is a key component of our staff induction program.

In addition, we have procedures on ethical conduct in human research and on the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. Our practices comply with national codes and relevant state and federal legislative requirements.

Our CSIRO Code of Conduct sets out the standard of behaviour expected of CSIRO and of everyone working in it.

Internal controls

Assurances about our financial state of affairs, compliance and control environment are provided through a range of processes including the role of the Internal Audit, Risk, Legal, Fraud Control and Security units, system design and monitoring, compliance reporting by senior managers and the operation of our CSIRO Public Interest Disclosure Scheme.

At CSIRO, we comply with Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines. A revised Fraud Control Plan was released in April 2014. On 13 June 2014, final approval by our Chief Financial Officer, Ms Hazel Bennett, was signed and a copy was uploaded to the CSIRO intranet. This year we also progressed towards meeting the mandatory requirements of the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework and the Information Security Manual.

We approach compliance based on our business model and have a risk-based approach to addressing non-compliant areas. Progress is being overseen by the CSIRO Security Committee and Executive Team, who endorse all changes to security procedures within CSIRO.

Reviews by outside bodies

External audit is provided by the Australian National Audit Office. During 2013–14, there were no reports on the operations of CSIRO by the Auditor-General (other than on the financial statements), a Parliamentary Committee or the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The Senate Standing Committee on Economics examines the operations of CSIRO following the Federal Budget, the tabling in Parliament of our CSIRO Annual Report and the introduction to Parliament of the additional appropriation bills later in the financial year. This year senior executives appeared before the Committee on three occasions and responded to all related questions on notice. The Committee reviewed the 2012–13 Annual Report and provided comments which have been addressed in this report.

Judicial decisions

During 2013–14, there were no judicial decisions or decisions of administrative tribunals that have had, or may have, a significant effect on the operations of CSIRO.

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